For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.

Member: Kansas Wheat Commission
Member of USW since 1980

Location: Manhattan, Kan.
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW); Hard White (HW)
USW Leadership: Adrian J. Polansky, 1985/86 Chairman; Joe Berry, 1996/97 Chairman; Ron Suppes, 2007/08 Chairman

The Kansas Wheat Commission represents “farmers investing in their future.” The grower-funded and governed advocacy organization works to secure a future for Kansas wheat in the global market. International trade, research, export system studies and continually improving wheat varieties are how Kansas wheat remains competitive in the world market. Through a voluntary two cent check-off on every bushel of wheat produced, Kansas wheat growers enhance their productivity and profitability.

USW 2007/08 Chairman Ron Suppes (L), a wheat farmer from Kansas, passes the gavel to Michael Edgar, a wheat farmer from Arizona.

Why is export market development important to Kansas wheat farmers and why do they continue to support USW?

Kansas wheat farmers support USW because of the technical expertise and trade assistance they provide to export customers, whose purchases account for about half of the wheat grown in Kansas each year. Much of this wheat is transported by rail to Mexico or to the Gulf of Mexico for export. Mexico is a growing market for Kansas wheat because of free trade policies, population and economic growth and a comparative advantage in transportation logistics.

Gary Millershaski, a USW director and Kansas wheat farmer, was featured along with his family recently in this video, “Stories from the Wheat Farm – The Next Generation in Kansas.”

How have Kansas wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

Each year, international customers travel to Kansas to learn more about the crop, the U.S. wheat grain production and marketing system and the farmers that grow the wheat they buy. These trade teams usually consist of procurement agents, flour millers and executives. They come to Kansas to get a first-hand look at each new crop as it nears the end of its growing season. They discuss the U.S. grading and inspection system to learn how to write their specifications to receive the best product at the most efficient price.

In addition, Kansas wheat farmers and members of the Kansas Wheat staff travel with USW to participate in buyers’ conferences and on USW board teams. We speak at events for international buyers and work with the IGP Institute to provide training to customers.

Kansas wheat farmer Jay Armstrong (R) participated on the 2018 USW Board Team that traveled to South Africa and Nigeria. He is pictured here in a South African wheat field. Read more about this trip here.

A USW Trade Delegation from Nigeria visited in Kansas in 2012. Kansas Wheat has a long history with the Nigerian milling industry and typically hosts customers from there each year.

A USW Sub Saharan Trade Delegation visiting Kansas in 2019.

This year, trade teams look different with current travel restrictions, so Kansas Wheat is reaching out to have virtual discussions with international customers. In June, we are hosting Zoom® meetings with customers from Brazil and Sub-Saharan Africa. While these buyers will not be able to set foot in a Kansas wheat field, they will get the latest information about the 2020 Kansas hard red winter (HRW) and hard white (HW) winter wheat crops, get an early report on grade and non-grade factors, get a live report from a Kansas wheat field, talk to a farmer, and visit with a grain trade representative. There will be a question and answer session for all participants.

What is happening lately in Kansas that overseas customers should know about?

Wheat harvest in Kansas is just beginning. This year’s crop has had some struggles, from drought conditions last fall, to continued spring drought in the southwest and north central parts of the state, to a damaging April freeze. While the quantity of the crop will likely be slightly lower than normal, the test weight and protein of this year’s crop will likely be above average. There will be enough wheat to meet our customers’ needs.

Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin (center) gives guests a tour of the Wheat Genetics Resource Center. Learn more about wheat research and breeding here.

The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center (KWIC) was built by the Kansas Wheat Commission, through the Kansas wheat check-off, to get improved wheat varieties into the hands of farmers faster. It represents the single largest research investment by Kansas wheat farmers in history. The KWIC was built on land owned by Kansas State University and is leased to the Kansas Wheat Commission for 50 years. Construction was completed in November 2012. Four new greenhouse bays were completed in spring 2018. Construction of a wheat quality lab housed in the KWIC will be completed this summer.

The KWIC is also home of the world-renowned Wheat Genetics Resource Center (WGRC). The WGRC has established a national and international network to conduct and coordinate genetic studies in wheat. The WGRC has also been recently designated as a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. This is the first I/UCRC focusing on plant sciences. The NSF Center is a collaboration between private wheat genetics companies and public universities including Kansas State University, Colorado State University and Washington State University. The goal is to leverage the wide genetic diversity of wheat to improve modern varieties.

Learn more about the Kansas Wheat Commission on its website here and on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

In 2019, Kansas wheat farmer Brian Linin testified on behalf of U.S. wheat farmers on the importance of the grain inspection system for U.S. export markets. Read more.

Past USW Chairman and Kansas wheat farmer Ron Suppes spoke at an event for the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba.

Kansas wheat farmer Justin Knopf is featured in USW’s sustainability profiles here.

Past USW Chairman and Kansas wheat farmer Ron Suppes (green shirt), joined USW on its “Food Aid Learning Journey” to Tanzania in 2017. Read more about this trip here.


U.S. wheat farm families grow six distinct classes of wheat across the diverse landscape of the United States. Those farmers take great care in producing the highest quality wheat in the most sustainable ways possible to honor their family legacies and to ensure greater value for their customers at home and abroad. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people.

The Kleeman/Millershaski Family: Gary Millershaski started farming with his father-in-law Earl Kleeman in 1992 and his sons Jeremy and Kyler joined the operation four years ago. Sadly, Earl passed away in 2019, but not before he proudly helped harvest what was one of the family’s best wheat crops in years. Kyler Millershaski is excited to build on his family’s legacy as the next generation on the farm.

Location: Lakin, Kansas
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Hard Red Winter (HRW) and Hard White (HW)
Gary Millershaski: Past President, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers; Kansas Wheat Commissioner; USW Director
Kyler Millershaski: Vice President, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers 


The new crop U.S. wheat harvest is underway in south Texas and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will publish its first “Harvest Report” for marketing year 2020/21 on Friday, May 29.

USW Harvest Reports are published every Friday afternoon, Eastern Daylight Time, throughout the season with updates and comments on harvest progress, crop conditions and current crop quality for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and durum wheat.

Anyone may subscribe to an email version of the “Harvest Report” at this link. USW includes links in the email to additional wheat condition and grading information, including the U.S. Drought Monitor, USDA/NASS Crop Progress and National Wheat Statistics, the official FGIS wheat grade standards and USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. Harvest Reports are also posted online on the USW website here.

The weekly Harvest Report is a key component of USW’s international technical and marketing programs. It is a resource that helps customers understand how the crop situation may affect basis values and export prices.

USW’s overseas offices share the report with their market contacts and use it as a key resource for answering inquiries and meeting with customers. USW/Mexico City also publishes the report in Spanish.

USW wants to thank and acknowledge the organizations that make “Harvest Reports” possible, including:

  • California Wheat Commission Laboratory;
  • Durum Wheat Quality and Pasta Processing Laboratory, North Dakota State University (NDSU)
  • Great Plains Analytical Laboratory;
  • Plains Grains, Inc.;
  • State Wheat Commissions;
  • USDA/Federal Grain Inspection Service;
  • USDA/Foreign Agricultural Service;
  • USDA/Agricultural Research Service Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory;
  • USDA/National Agricultural Statistics Service;
  • Wheat Marketing Center;
  • Wheat Quality & Carbohydrate Research, Department of Plant Sciences, NDSU;
  • Wheat Quality Council.



For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.

Member: Washington Grain Commission
USW Member since 1980  

Location: Spokane, Washington
Classes of Wheat Grown: Soft White (SW) and White Club, Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard Red Spring (HRS) and Hard White (HW)
USW Leadership: Wayne Klindworth, 1990/91 Chairman; Christopher Shaffer, 1999/00 Chairman; Randy Suess 2011/12; Mike Miller 2017/18 Chairman

The goal of the Washington Wheat Commission (WGC) when it was chartered in 1958 was “to do as a group what cannot be done alone.” Now, more than half a century later, the organization, known as the Washington Grain Commission since 2009, is none the less committed to developing and improving existing markets for Eastern Washington farmers. The WGC is committed to growing market share in existing, emerging, and new markets around the world. Through promotion, trade, transportation and policy activities, and research on end use qualities, the WGC can carry the wheat legacy first brought by the famed American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who, it’s said, planted the first Washington wheat in 1805.

2017-18 USW Officers, including Washington wheat farmer Mike Miler as the new installed 2017/18 Chairman.

Why is export market development important to Washington wheat farmers and why do they continue to support USW?

While around 46 percent of the nation’s wheat crop is exported, upwards of 90 percent of Eastern Washington’s wheat crop heads overseas. About 80 percent of Washington’s production is in soft white wheat, used in sponge cakes, cookies and crackers.

Although we constantly emphasize quality, consistency is just as important as end product manufacturers need a wheat that will perform each and every time in the high throughput environment of modern food manufacturing facilities as well as in more artisan type uses. Having USW’s technical staff overseas is incredibly important. Their ability to troubleshoot problems and provide solutions is one aspect. The other is simply their enthusiasm for wheat sourced from the United States and how they communicate that commitment to customers.

How have Washington wheat farmers recently interacted with overseas customers?

Washington hosts upwards to a dozen trade teams a year from customers located in the Pacific Rim and Latin America. These opportunities not only allow us to educate buyers about the quality and performance of Eastern Washington wheat, they provide a venue for them to see wheat growing in a field in one of the most beautiful growing regions in the world.

With the WGC based out of Spokane, we also can introduce customers to wheat breeders at Washington State University and the Western Wheat Quality Lab in Pullman, where wheat samples are milled and evaluations of their quality tested. We also regularly take them to our nearby shuttle train loading facilities and to barge loading facilities on the Snake/Columbia River System. Due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have more recently been keeping touch with our customers with the help of USW, through phone calls, emails, videos, virtual meetings and even through the WGC podcast which has listeners overseas.

WGC CEO Glen Squires (R) with a U.S. wheat customer from Southeast Asia during the 2019 wheat harvest in Eastern Washington.

What is happening lately in Washington that overseas customers should know about?

Club wheat, which is a sub class of soft white wheat, has received increased attention thanks to an initiative with the Japanese. Technical exchange between breeders and Japanese milling representatives has helped identify specific end-product quality needs. This kind of cooperation is crucial in terms of getting customers what they want. We also have dialogue with private breeding companies of the absolute necessity of releasing high quality varieties. Our Preferred Wheat Variety brochure helps in that process.

Washington wheat farmers are actively tending to the wheat crop as they do every year to ensure the highest quality wheat is available for our customers. Field work is underway, equipment is being maintained and the crop is being tended in this moment of COVID-19 distancing protocols. Wheat breeders are actively working on new varieties and wheat variety quality testing efforts remain a key focus. The grain handling systems, including the railroads and river barge system, are fully operational as well. There are no delays in providing our overseas customers with high quality grain to meet their needs.

Learn more about the Washington Grain Commission on its website and on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

A 2018 USW Trade Delegation from the Philippines visited the Washington Grain Commission and met with several farmers.

Randy Suess, retired Washington wheat farmer and 2011/12 USW Chairman, traveled to several countries with USW including Yemen where this picture was taken. Read more about Randy’s experiences here.

Tsung-Yuan (John) Lin (R) a U.S. wheat customer from Taiwan in Washington with Washington Grain Commission staff in a soft white wheat field.

Washington wheat farmer Mike Carstensen was a member of the 2018 USW Board team that traveled to North Asia, including to this visit to a Chinese bakery.


Washington wheat farmer Gary Bailey was a member of the 2016 USW Board team that traveled to Japan and Korea.


By Mark Fowler, USW Vice President of Global Technical Services

In the increasingly competitive global wheat market, it is important to review the advantages that U.S. wheat delivers to millers and bakers. In a series of six articles, we will review the advantages that each unique class of U.S. wheat brings to the market.

Hard white (HW) wheat is the smallest class of wheat grown in the United States with an annual average production over the last five years of less than 1 million metric tons (MMT), about 30 million bushels.  U.S. HW is the newest class of wheat and has developed a strong niche in the U.S. domestic market for whole wheat flour products. In addition, HW varieties are bred to yield flour for both bread and Asian noodles.

The strong demand for a specific use and the relatively small production has created a market where the majority of HW is grown under contract with domestic milling companies to assure quality standards and to provide a premium price incentive to farmers. It is also important to mention, HW wheat includes winter and spring varieties, increasing the protein range and functionality within the class.

Milling Advantages

U.S. HW wheat performs in the mill much like hard red winter (HRW) wheat. The most obvious HW benefit is higher extraction levels of whiter flour due to its lighter bran color. Higher extraction rates generally improve the water absorption of the flour benefiting the baker as well. HW is a true hard wheat creating an advantageous granulation in the primary breaks for the production of course semolina increasing the production of low ash flour.

Baking and Processing Advantages

The greatest advantage of hard white wheat in the market is the quality of baked products made from hard white wheat flour. As mentioned, one of the primary uses of hard white flour in the U.S. baking industry is for whole wheat products. By using ultra fine white whole wheat flour, whole wheat bread can be produced with the color and texture of traditional bread. This has created a large demand for white whole wheat flour in school lunch programs and other products promoting the health benefits of whole wheat flour and the acceptable taste to children.

Another advantage of HW wheat flour is a low polyphenol oxidase (PPO) content. PPO is an enzyme that can cause browning of dough. Lower PPO content improves the color of wet noodles and Asian steamed bread products. The starch-pasting characteristics of some HW varieties as measured by amylograph values are also an important trait for noodle production. High peak viscosity is associated with desirable texture characteristics in noodles.

Sourcing Challenges

With all the advantages of HW to the milling and baking industry, the market has challenges in determining the value of the HW. A majority of the HW is grown under production contracts by U.S. milling companies. It is also grown predominantly in the Great Plains adding to the challenge of marketing HW to Asian customers sourcing wheat off the West Coast. The small size of the HW planted acres creates challenges for a volume-based grain handling system.  The need to segregate HW from HRW or HRS adds cost to the elevators due to the time required to clean equipment and bins. It can also be difficult to accumulate enough quantity to fill a ship hold or complete unit train. These challenges require creativity and flexibility by both the buyer and seller working together to pull HW wheat through the market encouraging the wheat producer to increase HW wheat planted acres.

U.S. Wheat Advantages

As we highlight each specific class in this series, let us not forget the advantages that all U.S. wheat classes bring to the market. First, and perhaps the most important, is consistency in quality and consistency of supply. Although each new crop year brings different challenges and opportunities, U.S. wheat is always available to the global market. Second, U.S. wheat delivers variety. Wheat is a raw material manufactured into a bakery ingredient, flour. The flour made from each unique class of U.S. wheat brings value to market in the unique quality characteristics to make a variety of baked goods and noodles. It is also important to understand the value of blending flour from one or more types of wheat to optimize the flour performance at the minimal cost. Each region, country and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. With six unique classes of wheat, the United States has the right wheat class to deliver the optimal quality and value for every variety of product on the market.

Learn more about the six classes of U.S. wheat here or leave a question in the U.S. Wheat Associates’ “Ask The Expert” section.

Read more about other U.S. wheat classes in this series.

Hard Red Winter
Hard Red Spring
Soft White
Soft Red Winter


By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

Despite challenging market factors, U.S. wheat exports for marketing year (MY) 2018/19, which ended May 31, totaled 25.8 million metric tons (MMT) (948 million bushels), in line with USDA’s adjusted export volume estimate. That is 9% ahead of MY 2017/18 and 1% ahead of the 5-year average of 25.5 MMT (937 million bushels). Commercial sales of all classes of wheat in MY 2018/19 exceeded 2017/18 levels due to abundant exportable supplies, excellent harvest qualities, competitive export prices and sustained service from U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) representatives supported by its state commissions and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service programs. This offset the bearish factors including a strong U.S. dollar, competitor’s advantages, uncertainty about U.S. trade policies and difficult inland transportation logistics.

Hard Red Winter. USDA reported hard red winter (HRW) 2018/19 sales totaled 9.40 MMT (345 million bushels), 1% above 2017/18 and 1% above the 5-year average of 9.30 MMT (342 million bushels). Customers took advantage of the highest quality HRW crop in several years at attractive export prices compared to 2017/18. Out of the Gulf, between Jan. 1 and May 31, 2019, the average export price of U.S. HRW 12.0 protein (12% moisture basis) cost $227/metric ton (MT) compared to $257/MT over the same period in 2018. Sales to Mexico and Nigeria were up 6% and 36% respectively, while sales to Japan were down 6%. Sales to Mexico totaled 2.15 MMT (79.0 million bushels), 44% above the 5-year average of 1.49 MMT (55.0 million bushels), once again making Mexico the top HRW buyer. Commercial sales to Iraq, now the fourth-largest consumer of U.S. HRW, were in line with 2017/18 levels at 674,000 metric tons (MT) (24.7 million bushels).

Soft Red Winter. 2018/19 soft red winter (SRW) sales increased 33% year-over-year to 3.33 MMT (123 million bushels), still 14% below the 5-year average of 3.92 MMT (144 million bushels) despite difficult inland transportation logistical issues due to major flooding on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The 2018/19 SRW crop boasted higher protein levels and good extensibility, making it a valuable blending ingredient for cookies and cakes. A steady decline in SRW futures prices between mid-December 2018 and mid-May 2019 encouraged strong commercial sales to top SRW-importing regions. Export sales to three of the top five SRW purchasers increased or remained steady compared to 2017/18. Sales to Mexico, the top importer of U.S. SRW, increased 25% over last year to 917,000 MT (33.6 million bushels) and sales to Peru, the fifth-largest importer of U.S. SRW, increased 13% over last year to 175,000 MT (6.46 million bushels). Export sales to Nigeria held strong at 272,000 MT (9.96 million bushels).

Hard Red Spring. By the end of MY 2018/19, hard red spring (HRS) export sales totaled 7.15 MMT (263 million bushels), 16% ahead of last year’s pace, despite a 94% decrease in commercial sales to China, formerly the fourth-largest importer of U.S. HRS. A 60% year-over-year increase in HRS production, at 16.0 MMT (588 million bushels), higher ending stocks, high protein content and competitive export prices all supported export sales. Gulf exports of HRS 14.0 protein between Jan. 1 and May 31, 2019, cost, on average, $263/MT compared to $305/MT over the same period in 2018. Seven of the country’s top ten HRS-importing partners increased commercial sales year over year. Commercial sales to the Philippines, the top importer of U.S. HRS, jumped to 1.85 MMT (68.0 million bushels) in 2018/19, 39% ahead of last year and 38% ahead of the 5-year average of 1.34 MMT (49.2 million bushels).

White wheat. Total commercial sales of soft white (SW) and hard white (HW) wheat climbed to 5.45 MMT (200 million bushels) in 2018/19, which includes about 165,000 MT of HW sales to Nigeria. That is slightly ahead of last year’s pace and 21% ahead of the 5-year average of 4.51 MMT (166 million bushels) due to increased production, increased exportable supplies and below-average protein levels compared to years prior. Sales to the Philippines and Japan, the top two importers of U.S. SW, respectively, increased 13% and 7% over 2017/18 levels. The Philippines purchased 1.32 MMT (48.9 million bushels) of SW compared to 1.17 MMT (43.0 million bushels) in 2017/18. White wheat sales to Japan increased to 889,000 MT (32.7 million bushels) compared to 829,000 MT (30.4 million bushels) in 2017/18.

Durum. USDA reported 2018/19 durum sales at 504,000 MT (19.8 million bushels), up 24% from the year prior, but 12% below the 5-year average of 573,000 MT (21.0 million bushels). Increased production, high protein content, excellent kernel characteristics and competitive prices throughout the marketing year all supported northern durum export levels. Increased sales to four of the five top markets for U.S. durum boosted export figures. The European Union (EU) purchased 290,000 MT (10.7 million bushels) of U.S. durum in 2018/19, up 71% year-over-year following a drought that cut production in many EU countries.


By Erica Oakley, USW Director of Programs

As a key part of its commitment to transparency, each year U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) produces an annual Crop Quality Report that includes grade, flour and baking data for all six U.S. wheat classes. The report is compiled from sample testing and analysis conducted during and after harvest by our partner laboratories. The report provides essential, objective information to help buyers get the wheat they need at the best value possible.

The 2018 USW Crop Quality Report is now available for download in English, Spanish, French and Italian, and will be available in Chinese and Arabic soon. USW also shares more detailed, regional reports for all six U.S. wheat classes on its website, as well as additional information on its sample and collection methods, solvent retention capacity (SRC) recommendations, standard deviation tables and more.

USW’s annual Crop Quality Seminars are already underway and will continue over the next month around the world. USW invites its overseas customers, including buyers, millers and processors, to these seminars led by USW staff, U.S. wheat farmers, state wheat commission staff and educational partner organizations. The seminars dive into grade factors, protein levels, flour extraction rates, dough stability, baking loaf volume, noodle color and texture and more for all six U.S. wheat classes, and are tailored to focus on the needs and trends in each regional market.

In 2018, USW is projected to host 41 seminars in 28 countries.

Customers have previously shared that they use the report throughout the year as a reference manual and to guide them through purchases and future planning. The seminars provide a first look at the overall crop and a deep dive into the data and how to use it. Customers will often use the seminars and report as educational training for new employees.

The reports and seminars have been a traditional part of USW’s strategy since 1959, growing to become its single largest marketing activity.


In a year when limited exportable quantities of U.S. hard white (HW) wheat are available, the good performance in milling, dough rheological properties and end products, including pan breads, Asian noodles and steamed breads reflect growing conditions and varietal improvements in the 2018 HW crop.

The 2018 crop was grown primarily in Kansas, Colorado, Idaho, California and Nebraska with some production in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) estimates 2018 HW production at 894 metric tons (MT), up slightly from 2017’s 883 MT reported by USDA.

Wheat and Grade Data: All six composites graded U.S. No. 1 with test weight ranging from 60.5 to 64.2 lb/bu (79.6 to 84.4 kg/hl). The value ranges of composites are: dockage from 0.0 to 0.6%; wheat moisture from 8.4% to 11.2%; wheat protein from 11.1% to 13.3% (12% mb); wheat ash from 1.37% to 1.59% (14% mb); kernel hardness from 53.3 to 78.2; and kernel diameters from 2.61 to 2.99 mm. The thousand kernel weights (TKW) of Pacific Northwest (PNW) and California low- and high-protein composites are greater than 31.8 g. The TKW values of Southern Plains medium- and high-protein composites are 34.7 and 29.7 g, respectively. Falling number values of 360 sec or higher for all composites indicate all samples are sound.

Flour, Dough and Baking Data: Buhler laboratory mill straight-grade flour extractions range from 71.1% to 74.4%; L* values (whiteness) from 90.4 to 91.9; flour protein from 10.3% to 13.0% (14% mb); and flour ash from 0.42% to 0.48% (14% mb). These values are within the historical ranges of HW flour.

Flour wet gluten contents range from 27.2% to 35.2% depending on flour protein content. Amylograph peak viscosities are between 873 BU and 946 BU, which show good starch pasting properties suitable for Asian noodle applications for all samples. Starch damage values are in the range of 3.6% to 7.8%. Lactic acid SRC values are 139% to 160%, indicating medium to strong gluten strength.

Farinograph water absorptions range from 56.9% to 63.3% and stability times from 9.3 min to 19.5 min, exhibiting the typical HW medium to strong dough characteristics. HW farinograph water absorption is usually similar to that of HRW, but longer stability time indicates more tolerance to over-mixing. The ranges of alveograph values are: P values 64 mm to 98 mm; L values 76 mm to 109 mm; and W values 220 to 317 (10-4 J). Extensograph data at 135-min resting show maximum resistance in the range of 741 BU to 1237 BU, extensibility from 14.5 cm to 22.7 cm and area from 147 cm2 to 218 cm2.

Most samples show good baking performance relative to protein content, with bake absorptions in the range of 61.8% to 68.5%, loaf volumes of 754 cc to 883 cc and crumb grain and texture scores of 6.8 points to 7.0 points.

Noodle Evaluation: HW flours and a control flour were evaluated for both Chinese raw noodles (white salted) and Chinese wet noodles (yellow alkaline). For Chinese raw noodles, the L* values at 0 hr of production and after 24 hr of storage at room temperature are acceptable for all samples except for the PNW, California and Southern Plains high-protein composites, which have L* 24-hr values of 71.9, 70.5, and 71.5, respectively (72 is the minimum value at 24 hr). The sensory color stability scores of all samples are lower than the control noodle score of 7.0. Cooked noodle texture is softer for PNW and California low-protein composites due to the protein content. For Chinese wet noodles, sensory color stability scores are acceptable except for the California low- and high-protein composites and Southern Plains high-protein composites. The cooked noodle texture values of all Chinese wet noodles are acceptable. Overall, this year’s HW samples will produce noodles with more acceptable color if low ash patent flour is used.

Steamed Bread Evaluation: HW flours were evaluated for Asian steamed breads in comparison with a control flour. Results show most samples are acceptable for steamed breads except for the PNW low- and high-protein composites, the total scores of which are low. Blending a small percentage of SW flour with high protein HW flour would improve overall steamed bread quality.


By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst

With the small, stressed hard red winter (HRW) wheat crop getting the lion’s share of attention, it was an initial surprise to read in USDA’s May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) that U.S. wheat production is expected to increase to 49.6 million metric tons (MMT) in 2018/19. That would be up 5 percent year over year, if realized.

The forecast increase is a result of greater harvested area and slightly higher average yield in the other classes. USDA forecast 2018/19 all wheat average yield at 46.8 bushels per acre (3.15 metric tons [MT] per hectare), up from 46.3 bushels per acre (3.11 MT per hectare) last year. Harvested area is expected to increase 1.3 million acres (526,000 hectares) in 2018/19. Crop condition ratings also matter in this forecast, and as the following by-class reviews show, HRW is clearly the exception to the up-trend in production.

HRW production is expected to be the smallest since 2006/07 at 17.6 MMT. If realized, that would be down 14 percent year over year and 22 percent below the 5-year average. Low farm-gate prices and poor planting weather last fall reduced 2018/19 U.S. HRW planted area to 23.2 million acres (9.4 million hectares), the second lowest planted area on record. That poor start coupled with widespread drought throughout the U.S. Southern Plains set up the current situation where harvested HRW acres are expected to fall 5 percent from 2017/18 to 16.5 million acres (6.68 million hectares).

The large decrease in harvested acres is centralized in the U.S. Southern Plains where HRW crop condition ratings remain poor. In top HRW-producing states of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, 51 percent, 65 percent, and 59 percent of HRW is rated poor or very poor, respectively. As a consequence of the drought and resulting poor crop conditions, USDA expects harvested area in Oklahoma to fall 31 percent year over year to 2.0 million acres (810,000 hectares). On May 10, USDA rated 25 percent of HRW in the states surveyed in good to excellent condition, while 45 percent is rated poor or very poor. Read more about the all too evident challenge of wheat farming on the High Plains.

Soft red winter (SRW) production is expected to increase to 8.57 MMT in 2018/19. If realized, that would be up 8 percent year over year, but still 22 percent below the 5-year average. 2018/19 U.S. SRW harvested area is expected to increase 8 percent from the year prior to 4.0 million acres (1.62 million hectares). USDA also expects record high yields in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland and Michigan due to favorable growing conditions this spring.

On May 14, USDA noted week over week crop condition rating improvements in nearly all SRW-growing states, with 67 percent of the SRW acres surveyed rated good to excellent. Week over week improvements were noted in Illinois and Arkansas where 63 percent of SRW was rated good to excellent, up 10 percentage points and 5 percentage points, respectively, from the week prior.

White wheat.* 2018/19 white winter wheat production is forecast at 6.24 MMT, including 5.66 MMT of soft white (SW) winter wheat and 577,000 MT of hard white (HW) winter wheat. If realized, SW winter wheat production would be up 2 percent year over year, due to increased planted area, while HW winter wheat production would be down 11 percent from 2017/18 due to forecast reduction in average yield. SW winter wheat production is centralized in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) states of Idaho, Oregon and Washington. As of May 14, 71 percent of Idaho SW, 80 percent of Oregon SW and 85 percent of Washington SW was rated in good to excellent condition.

Desert Durum®. USDA expects Desert Durum® production — centralized in Arizona and California and planted in the winter — to total 332,000 MT, up 6 percent from 2017/18 due to significantly better yields in California. In Arizona, the Desert Durum® crop was 90 percent headed by April 29, significantly ahead of the year prior’s pace.

Spring wheat and Northern durum. Snow covered, frozen fields delayed spring wheat and Northern durum planting this year, but U.S. farmers are beginning to catch up. As of May 14, spring wheat and durum planting is 58 percent complete, up from just 30 percent complete the week prior, but still behind the 5-year average pace of 67 percent.

With spring planting still underway, USDA did not provide a by-class breakdown of production for hard red spring (HRS) and durum on May 10. However, USDA did note that combined spring wheat and Northern durum production is projected to increase 34 percent year over year due to “both increased area and yield.” With total U.S. wheat production projected at 49.6 MMT and U.S. winter wheat production projected at 32.4 MMT, that puts 2018/19 spring wheat — including soft white spring, HRS, and hard white spring — and durum production at 17.2 MMT.

Back on March 29, USDA projected U.S. HRS planted area at 12.1 million acres (4.9 million hectares). If farmers are able to realize their planting intentions despite the late start, that would be up 17 percent year over year. Northern durum planted area was forecast at 1.88 million acres (760,000 hectares), down 14 percent, if realized. Still, weather will play a role in farmers’ decisions, and a late spring in Montana and western North Dakota tends to favor increased wheat area. Conversely, it tends to favor increased corn and soybean acres in Minnesota.

To stay in touch with U.S. wheat harvest progress, subscribe to the U.S. Wheat Associates Weekly Harvest Reports, which will start later this month.

*In the May 10 report, USDA combined data for soft white winter wheat and hard white winter wheat. Both soft white (SW) and hard white (HW) can be grown in either the spring or fall. USDA will provide a wheat by-class outlook in July. Similarly, data for HRS, SW spring, HW spring and spring-planted durum were combined into a general “spring-planted wheat” category.


By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst

According to the March 29 USDA Prospective Plantings report, U.S. total spring-planted area will jump to an estimated 14.1 million acres (5.71 million hectares), 12 percent above 2017/18, if realized. The estimate includes 12.1 million acres (4.90 million hectares) of hard red spring (HRS), up 17 percent from 2017, if realized. It is important to note that this is an estimate, as farmers in the top four HRS producing states of Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota have not started planting due to extremely cold, snowy weather across the region.

USDA expects a 1.05 million acre (425,000 hectare) increase in North Dakota spring wheat area, which is forecast at 6.40 million acres (2.59 million hectares). If realized, that would be up 20 percent year over year. Spring wheat acres in Minnesota are also expected to increase 38 percent from 2017/18 levels to 1.6 million acres (648,000 hectares). South Dakota 2018/19 HRS planted area is forecast at 1.05 million acres (425,000 hectares), up 80,000 acres (32,000 hectares). However, the planting window for spring wheat in North Dakota and Minnesota is no more than three weeks; after that the yield potential starts to decrease and farmers choose to plant alternative crops.

“This cold, wet spring could work against spring wheat planting in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota,” said Mike Krueger, an independent market analyst based in North Dakota. “Farmers in these areas are reluctant to plant spring wheat after late April and right now the forecast is calling for another two weeks of cold weather and snow. If planting is delayed until May, we will probably see a switch to soybeans or other crops.”

USDA forecast Montana HRS planted area at 2.50 million acres (1.00 million hectares), in line with 2017/18 planted area. But, in contrast to eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota, the late spring may increase HRS planted acres in parts of Montana according to Cassidy Marn, marketing program manager with the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee.

“Farmers in Montana have fewer alternatives and, since we can only grow limited quantities of corn and soybeans here, wheat tends to be the last alternative,” said Marn. “Planting peas and lentils is possible, but given the amount of snow we still have on frozen ground, some farmers could miss the window for those crops. Planting spring wheat in June is not ideal, but it is preferable to planting nothing.”

USDA expects U.S. durum planted area to total 2.00 million acres (809,000 hectares), down 13 percent from 2017/18, if realized. The predicted decline is driven in large part by USDA’s expectation that North Dakota farmers will switch from durum to HRS or oilseed crops due to lower returns on durum in recent years. In addition, growers near the border are frustrated by a large volume of durum freely crossing the border from Canada that increases pressure on durum prices. Weather conditions will also affect durum planting decisions.

USDA also updated the winter wheat planted area from its January 2018 estimate, increasing winter wheat planted area by 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) to 32.7 million acres (13.2 million hectares). The new estimate is still 2 percent below the 2017/18 planted area. The increase came from hard red winter (HRW) area, estimated at 23.2 million acres (9.39 million hectares), up slightly from the previous projection, but still 2 percent below the year prior and 17 percent below the 5-year average.

The decreased HRW planted area makes crop conditions even more crucial. The April 2 USDA Crop Progress report rated 10 percent of Kansas HRW, 9 percent of Oklahoma HRW and 17 percent of South Dakota winter wheat as good, with virtually none of the crop rated as excellent in those states.

Soft red winter (SRW) planted area decreased from the previous estimate to 5.85 million acres (2.37 million hectares), but is still 4 percent above 2017/18 planted area. Overall, conditions for SRW are similar to what growers faced at the same time last year with a majority of the crop rated in good to excellent condition.

USDA expects white wheat acres — planted in both winter and spring — to reach 4.15 million acres (1.68 million hectares) for 2018/19, up 3 percent from 2017/18, but in line with the 5-year average. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows adequate moisture for Washington, but southern Idaho and Oregon are experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions. Still, USDA reported that the majority of the white wheat crop in those states are in good to excellent condition.

The expected increase in spring wheat area would increase total U.S. wheat planted area to 47.3 million acres (19.1 million hectares) in 2018/19, up 3 percent year over year. The increase was unexpected, but if realized it would still be the second lowest planted wheat area since 1919 when USDA records began.

As always, spring brings the waiting game — all we can do is watch how the crops respond to conditions going forward.